I have the flu. The big old ‘my head hurts, my feet stink, and I don’t love Jesus’ kinda flu. Stayed up late watching the cricket and Dr Who, reading Al Reynold’s neat story from Postscripts 4 (“Zima Blue”) and Scott’s Blue Noon, and keeping an ear out for the kids. Marianne was out for dinner, but apart from me sniffing and coughing, it was fairly quiet.
It’s early days yet to talk about Scott’s book, but I did think I’d talk a little about Postscripts. It’s a new magazine published out of the UK and edited by Pete Crowther with Nick Gevers. I’ve read the first three issues, and been impressed. The editors obviously have broad tastes, able to encompass within a single issue everything from space opera to slipstream; a flexibility that I really like. The production values are good, too. PS is produced much as their limited edition chapbooks are, as perfect bound A5 trade paperbacks. It’s a format that suits the chapbooks well, and the magazine better. So far each issue has had a handsome Edward Miller cover and the internal layout is simple and easy to read (a good thing).
And the fiction? The standard is generally very good. The highlights of PS3 were Joe Hill’s powerful ‘Best New Horror’ (a take on what happens to the editor of a year’s best horror anthology series when he meets one his contributors), Gene Wolfe’s fascinating ‘Comber’ (a wave catching city, literally), and Jack Dann’s ‘Dreaming with Angels’ (another James Dean-related story). It also featured a strong fantasy by Chaz Brenchley, ‘Dragon Kings Play Songs of Love’, and interesting stories by Rick Bowes and David Herter. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see several of these in next year’s ‘year’s best’ annuals, or on awards ballots.
The latest issue, which I’ve just had a sneek peek at, includes: Alastair Reynolds “Zima Blue”, Eric Brown’s “Life Beyond”, Lawrence Person’s “Master Lao and the Flying Horror”, Barry Malzberg & Paul Di Filippo’s “Beyond Mao”, Adam Roberts’s “And Future King”, Jack Dann’s “Dharma Bums”, and Zoran Zivkovic’s “The Cell”. I’ve only had a chance to read the Reynold’s story so far, and I really liked it. It’s set against a space opera backdrop that recalls, as much as anything, the kind of post-scarcity universe Iain Banks’ employs so successfully in his ‘Culture’ novels. Here a near-immortal journalist has been pursuing an enigmatic cyborg artist for an interview. The artist, Zima, is famous for his enormous installations that involving coloring or wrapping things in a distinct shade of blue (very much like Christo and Jeanne-Claude). With a few unexpected turns, it leads into an interesting rumination on the nature of memory and of art. I’ve read a lot Reynolds’ short fiction, and enjoyed most of it. This is perhaps most reminiscent of a story like ‘Turquoise Days’, which avoids big space action in favor of story on a more intimate scale. I’m sure Reynolds must be building towards a collection, and I’m guessing it’ll be a particularly strong one when it does appear. In the meantime, PS4 is worth the price of admission for this story alone.
And on that, it’s around here that you would normally be exhorted to subscribe to this, and other, magazines. Most often, when I hear this exhortation, it seems to be pitched from the angle that short fiction is dying and magazines are a rare breed that you should, for some philanthropic reason or other, support. I’ve never been convinced by that argument: not when I was publishing a semiprozine myself, and not now. I think you should subscribe to Postscripts, but not for any philanthropic reason. Do it because the fiction is terrific and you like to read great stories. Do it because you want to see what two interesting editors can do with a quarterly magazine. I’m torn between Postscripts and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet as to which is the best small press magazine around today. Happily, I don’t have to choose. I can have them both, and so can you. You can subscribe to Postscripts here. Oh, and to Lady Churchill’s here.